Tobold's Blog
Friday, January 20, 2012
A more colorful Skyrim

When they realized that they would be releasing two very similar games just months from each other, the makers of Skyrim and Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning agreed on a deal to differentiate their games by splitting up the color palette: Skyrim would get all the black, white, grey, and brown tones, and Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning would get all the candy bright colors.

While this story might not actually be true, the final result sure looks like it. You can now get the demo for Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning on Steam or elsewhere. And it is hard to play it and not draw certain parallels to Skyrim. KoAR is an open world single-player RPG with action combat, an open skill system, and a control scheme which makes you wish you had a console. As Skyrim did do rather well in the market, that is not necessarily a bad thing. But as a PC gamer the console control scheme sure is annoying.

Imagine you killed a mob in KoAR and it dropped some gloves that are better than the ones you are wearing. So you hit a key to open the menu, click to open inventory, click to open the armor section, click to expand the gloves section, click on the new gloves, then hit enter to equip the gloves. And then you need to close all those menus one by one. Aaaaaaaaaarrrrrrgggggghhhhh!!!!!!

While the demo is only the tutorial introduction plus 45 minutes of open world (not counting dialogues), I didn't even make it to the end of that time allowance before being thoroughly fed up with the controls and the camera. I'll be generous and assume that they work well on a console with a gamepad, but I think I'll just skip this game on the PC.
To be fair, Skyrim features one of the worst UI and SKILLS systems ever made. You may like it on a console but it's just garbage on pc. It's good we can mod it, yes. But that's not enough.
Two things: You can equip loot directly from the loot window by right-clicking on it to compare it with what you're wearing currently. Equipping the item then shows up as an option (granted, that's still quite clunky, works better on a gamepad).
Also, after playing the demo I'm thinking the better comparison for this game might be Mass Effect. It's a similar combination of dialogue/story and action-based combat and some of the character development seems lifted straight out of Mass Effect 1 (with the other part effectively being WoW's talent trees).
I definitely agree this is a game to be played with a gamepad, but if you're willing to do that it (hopefully) is good fun (although the constant switching between short combat sections and short dialogue bits in the demo felt oddly paced to me).
I didn't care for it too much. Part of it was just the general style of the game. When the intro played and the first thing you see is a bad guy with a giant overgrown sword and huge shoulder armor, it turned me off a good bit there. I'm not sure why games have to use silly armor and swords 15' long and wide as a shovel - they just look stupid. Then use all the colors from a candy story for the environment so you might need sunglasses to play.

Going through all the menus just to equip armor or weapons was pretty goofy, even Skyrim's menu isn't that horrid (and yeah Skyrim's UI leaves alot to be desired). To me it played like a poor version of WOW single player. Nothing really that grabbed me or made me want to run out and buy it. And comparing it to Mass Effect, I don't think it holds a candle to it. Just another generic fantasy game... but at least it was more put together than SWTOR.
you can right click to equip, etc. i played the demo first on ps3 and i prefer the pc version with mouse and keyboard. being able to look around without clicking additional buttons is a big deal to me in a game with such brilliant visuals.
I'm playing Skyrim on PS3 (thoroughly enjoying it btw) and I wouldn't say that the control scheme is better or more likable. It's more that it's the only way to do it when you only have 12, or so, useable buttons and no mouse but you have dozens of spells, potions, weapons you want to use.

At times the control scheme does certainly feel clunky and it is definitely more suited to a hack and slash approach than the rapid ability switching seen in PC only games.

That's one reason I'm playing on the PS3. From the reviews I knew that if I was playing on a PC I would miss the action bars too much.

The beauty of Skyrim is that if you prefer a colorful palette instead of the one in the vanilla game, you can easily download a mod to brighten your game up. You can actually customize the palette to however you want.
Did you really just call KoA an "open world"?? You can't even jump over a 1ft scree of boulders in KoA (or jump at all for that matter). Open as in yes you can look up and see sky and scenery, yet you are stuck in narrow alleyways confined by WoW-ish impenetrable walls of shrubbery with only 1 or 2 directions to walk.

Nope - no comparison to the shining example of open world that is Skyrim.
Did you really just call KoA an "open world"??

I didn't play long enough to make a definitive judgement on how open it is. But it certainly is advertised as "an epic, open world role-playing game" on their website.
Haha, I totally agree with you about the pc interface Tobold. I literally said to my monitor, "Really? REALLY?"
and my wife was like who are you talking to? And I told her a game from 1989...
I just tried the demo. My first impression was "hey, did Blizzard revamp textures and character models?" because let's be honest: it really looks like a single-player version of WoW.

I did not like it, though, at all. Hyper-fast camera movement (couldn't find any mouse setting, did I miss it?), messy interface and -in some way- clunky movement.
On the PC version you can use 'I' to open your inventory (which skips two ESC). You still have navigate the different types of items. You can click the red X in the upper right corner to close the menu. Not very intuitive or friendly, but its much less maddening.

Once I got used to the controls, I found the game quite fun. I like the class system. Not quite as limited as WoW, but not quite as open as Skyrim. Which pretty much describes the whole game as far as I've seen it.

As a non-action MMO player, the combat is very cool. I still have things to learn better. Like how to dodge better, fighting multiple opponents, using my special moves. Not quite as twitchy as FPS. Feels a little less clicky than DCUO (even though it probably isn't).

Gonna play though with all 3 main classes before I make my decision.
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